Change is never easy. Whether advocating a new technology, business process, or simply another point of view, there is a good way and a bad way to go about it. So those who are acting as champions of change need a toolbox to help them move things along. Because the alternative is doing things the same old way and missing out on the benefits of a better approach.
This whitepaper outlines 6 best practices for driving change in an organization.
We've also pulled out the first several pages of the whitepaper for you to read. Download the PDF on the right to read the rest.
There are those who welcome change and those who reject it. The dynamic between these two forces ultimately determines whether the organization as a whole evolves or the status quo remains. This is true whether the change is an improved process, a revolutionary technology or a new point of view.
The people who see the value of change and advocate for it become agents of change themselves. These people know that giving a presentation on a new approach won’t cause mass adoption. Neither will a top-down edict. Driving change is a process that takes time and involves winning people over by showing what the value of the new approach is for them personally.
If you are one of those champions of change, here are six practical ways to make it real.
1. Start small
Many projects fail before they can even get started because they get so bogged down in process or take years to implement. Avoid that pothole and start small. Focus on getting a part of your project up and running and show results, fast. Do a proof of concept and identify one or two areas that really need the change you’re advocating.
For example, if you’re working on a new business analytics system, target an area where the data already exists so you can focus on design and delivery of information. Or target a group that has been dealing with fast-moving business trends and has struggled to get the insight it needs to make decisions. Build a small pilot there and solve a specific problem. Starting with a small but important success will give you the momentum to grow larger.
2. Re-create the wheel
Companies that successfully roll out disruptive products and approaches often start with the same old thing they’ve been doing for years. They recreate what already exists.
Why does this work? Because some people need a stepping stone between the old and the new. Old things done a new way reassure these people that they aren’t stepping off a cliff. It makes them more open to change. And this is a good thing: if a new approach fails to deliver its full promise, at least the organization didn’t go backwards.
For example, people rolling out visualization software to replace old-school reporting often don’t even use any visualization capabilities at first. Instead, they reproduce long, boring sheets of numbers with no visualization or interactivity in sight. They recreate crotchety dashboards that track the business the way it was yesterday, not today. Once information consumers see the old reports, they relax.
Now it’s time to build on top of the old reports with additional dashboards that provide the ability to drill down, interact, and answer additional questions. New requests for data can be met with interactive dashboards produced in hours or days, not weeks or months. People will soon begin asking for those beautiful dashboards and the old reports will be forgotten.
3. Make them jealous
The thing about change is that it’s usually happening because there’s a better way. So use that to your advantage. Take every opportunity to place the new beside the old. As people see the shiny new approach that is rocketing the business ahead, they’ll start itching to get a piece of it. This is good.
Here’s one approach. Dreading the weekly struggle through a 10-page crosstab in a meeting to understand why certain product lines have become unprofitable? Prepare for the meeting by taking that same data and creating a dashboard that lets you drill down on a map and look at product sales over time on the fly. By the time you’ve figured out that shipping changes account for the increased costs, everyone in the room will want what you have. Even better, make sure an executive is present. Provide that person with new insight and you’ll see immediate demand.
When you bring out your shiny new methods, keep two important things in mind:
- Use real results, not a set of promises from a project plan or vendor. Nothing will kill your project faster than becoming that person who derails meetings by talking about some far-off change without contributing real substance.
- Share. When you see the envy in people’s eyes, go back to those third-grade principles and share. Incorporate their questions into the discussion. If you have a chance, follow up after the meeting and get them in on the project. Make sure they have enough understanding to begin working a bit on their own. These people will become your partners if you are generous with your advantage.